A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Ryan Coogler’s full-length debut produced by Forrest Whitaker is as hard-hitting, emotionally driven and as boldly impressive as they come. A film that possesses a sense of urgency, purpose and passion, 2013’s “Fruitvale Station” is an immensely powerful film that must be seen and understood.
It’s not often that a first time feature director can burst out of the blocks like Coogler has, and for Coogler, his efforts with “Fruitvale Station” have lead to him following it up with a “Rocky” film; go figure!
An account of the infamous New Year’s Eve of 2008, “Fruitvale Station” tells the story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a troubled 22-year-old with a lot on his plate (to put it lightly).
Juggling unemployment, fatherhood, financial problems and the overbearing stresses of his surrounding environment, Grant is constantly on the move, trying to make things right with those closest to him.
A man with good intentions, Grant unfortunately doesn’t get through without making a couple of enemies along the way, and it is on the final day of 2008 in Oakland, California, that his friends, family and even his enemies conjugate to bring in the new year.
Having been ever so slightly familiar with the events the film is based on, I must say that going into “Fruitvale Station” without knowing the story is beneficial. That being said, the film is so well made and structured that there is still enough to pack an emotional and heart-wrenching response from those familiar with the events.
I haven’t seen too many films starring or even featuring Michael B. Jordan, however his near-faultless, transformative performance as Oscar Grant certainly leaves his character in “That Awkward Moment” for dead. Oscar Grant III is a very remarkable character to put to screen. In just a matter of seconds, through Jordan’s portrayal, the audience is able to understand the kind of person he is and the state of his world at any given time.
A charming fellow in appearance, Jordan looks to be gifted in the comedic or ‘nicer’ roles that are associated and given to him, however his aggressiveness and raw emotive strength is so visceral that it’s very difficult to justify in words.
As far as “Fruitvale Station’s” accuracy goes, it has been the subject of criticism from some that accuse it of not being a truthful portrayal of events. Whatever your opinions on the films accuracy and faithfulness; there is no discrediting the power of the directing, performances and screenplay.
The opening scenes of the film are surprisingly tense and gripping, but it’s hard to tell if it’s the primary intention of the filmmakers. Being unsure about certain characters and scenarios, the first act of “Fruitvale Station” is immensely engaging, and it’s exactly what you want from a conflicting drama such as this.
There are a couple of supporting performances that particularly add to “Fruitvale Station’s” quality cast. The supporting roles of Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer are so potent, emotionally driven and substantial, that although the subject matter is often grim, I was always drawn to them in particular as I wanted to appreciate their talents as much as I could.
Ryan Coogler has definitely impressed with “Fruitvale Station”. A raw, through-provoking and necessary picture, the essence of location, societal hierarchy and the law are all taken into account and explored explicitly.
Performances are fantastic across the board, but it’s really Michael B. Jordan that shines brightest in his career-best efforts thus far. Tonally, “Fruitvale Station” excels in sending a message without putting it on the nose of its viewers, which is a major credit.
All in all, this definitely one to check out, particularly if you are familiar with the actual events of 2008